The temporal location of an event influences the way people mentally represent that event. We suggest (a) that such representational differences can produce an affective forecasting error that we call future anhedonia, which is the belief that hedonic states will be less intense in the future than in the present, and (b) that future anhedonia plays a role in time discounting (i.e., the tendency to place a smaller present value on present events than on future events). Experiments 1a and 1b demonstrated that people are prone to future anhedonia, Experiments 2a and 2b ruled out artifactual alternatives, and Experiments 3a and 3b demonstrated that future anhedonia plays a role in time discounting. These studies suggest that one reason why people prefer to enjoy benefits in the present and pay costs in the future is that they do not realize how they will feel when those costs and benefits are actually experienced.
Kassam, K. S., Gilbert, D. T., Boston, A., &Wilson, T. D. (2008). Future anhedonia and time discounting. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44(6), 1533-1537.